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Reducing road accidents 

2 years ago

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  •  Demerit scheme to be introduced 

  • Drivers to be tested for other narcotic usage 

  In a recent report published by the National Council for Road Safety (NCRS), the main reasons behind road accidents have been attributed to driving under the influence of alcohol and driving above the recommended speed limit.  The NCRS indicates that during the last five years, 13,550 road accidents have taken place, and around 5,592 accidents were caused by motorcyclists. Of the latter, an estimated 5,677 motorcyclists had died in the accidents. In 2018, around 1,255 motorcyclists had died of road accidents, and in 2019 it was 1,098. In 2020, the number had reduced to 950 motorcyclist deaths.  According to the statistics of the Sri Lanka Police, between 1 January and 20 April, 656 people were killed in road accidents, with 76 of them being reported during the Sinhala New Year week from 13-20 April. Out of that, 14 people were killed in road accidents on New Year’s Day itself.   According to the Police Media Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana, 49% of those killed were motorcyclists, and 20% were persons commuting in three-wheelers.  DIG Rohana stated that there were 121 road accidents on the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. Of these, 12 were on highways, 53 were motorcycle accidents, and 30 were three-wheeler accidents. A total of 74 people were injured in road accidents on 14 April. The death toll from road accidents between 14-15 April had been 30, and the number of injured were counted as 150.  Observing the gravity of the increasing number of deaths recorded due to road accidents, the Minister of Public Security (Retd.) Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara had recently appointed an expert committee to study the incidents and come up with a plan to reduce such accidents from taking place.  Accordingly, the current National Council for Road Safety is to be converted into a National Commission for Transport Safety, with jurisdictional expansion under a formal legal framework.  Commenting on additional measures that the Government plans to put in place in order to reduce road accidents, the Minister said: “Most of these road accidents occur due to violation of traffic rules and lack of discipline in drivers. Therefore, we are looking at introducing a programme to discipline the drivers. In addition to that, we are also looking at introducing a driving license with a demerit point scheme. For each type of traffic violation, points will be deducted from a person’s driver’s license.”  The point deduction system on driver’s licenses is to be implemented in the next two to three years and, as pointed out by Weerasekara, once all allocated points on a specific driver’s license is deducted, that license will be cancelled.  Commenting on the demerit points system that is to be introduced on driver’s licenses, DIG Rohana stated: “According to our legislative system, we have the laws to introduce a demerit points system. However, we need infrastructure to implement this system successfully. We are developing the infrastructure facilities to introduce this system as early as possible.”  Meanwhile, Weerasekara also noted that a system will be set up to computerise all information related to drivers and issue marks for driving licenses under the recommendations already given by the expert committee. There will also be an automatic calculation of the number of traffic violations recorded, which will expedite the process of paying fines. In addition to that, as recommended by the expert committee, CCTV camera systems will be implemented in the future.  Weerasekara also noted that the Ministry is looking at bringing down innovative tools that will allow the Traffic Police to detect motorists that are driving under the influence of narcotics. “At present, the Police use breathalysers that only assist them to detect motorists driving under the influence of alcohol. However, recent studies have indicated that about 50% of traffic violations are committed by motorists driving under the influence of narcotics such as cannabis, crystal meth, heroine, and other substances. Therefore, we plan to bring down the latest tools that will assist us to detect drivers under the influence of other substances as well.”   

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